Marijuana, Necessary Or Not?


Its shocking to some, but not to others! Marijuana is a substance that has
become very much a part of American culture, nearly 65 million Americans have
either used it occasionally or regularly. The use of marijuana hit mainstream
America about thirty years ago and it has been accepted by a large segment of
society ever since. The debate on whether this substance should be legalized
or not remains a very hot topic today. Despite government efforts to isolate
and eliminate its use, it is clear that the use of marijuana is still very
There is an obvious problem concerning marijuana today. Governments on all
three levels: local, state, and federal are trying desperately to find an
appropriate policy involving marijuana. National polls show that more than
70% of the American people, from both ends of the political spectrum, support
controlled access to marijuana for medicinal purposes. Despite fierce
opposition from the federal government, voters in California and Arizona
passed ballot initiatives in the fall of 1996 favoring the legalization of
medicinal marijuana. If support for marijuana at least as a medicinal remedy
is so high, then why have only a few states taken steps to change their
policy? There are several reasons why marijuana remains illegal. Mainly, it
is a political issue kicked around by certain special interest groups. Some
of these groups perceive marijuana as a threat to the home, tearing families
apart and causing them to abandon traditional values. However these groups
usually are not legitimate areas of legislation. The more powerful groups
have other, more practical reasons for keeping marijuana illegal. Among the
most powerful of these groups are the combined law
enforcement-judiciary-penal systems. This group sees the elimination of
marijuana laws as a threat to their jobs. Add to this group defense lawyers,
who stand to make millions of dollars defending marijuana offenders.
Consciously or not, they support anti-marijuana laws. Another interest group
includes the scientists whose marijuana research is funded by the government.
If marijuana were legalized, they would lose millions of dollars in research
grants intended to prove the detrimental effects of the substance. Two other
unrelated but very influential groups are the liquor lobby and pharmaceutical
companies. Their spending is usually very secretive and not publicized very
much. Legalization of a competing product that can be produced with relative
ease by anyone with access to a plot of land would cut deeply into their
profits. And the drug companies want control, rather than just a ban, for
they know the medicinal benefits of marijuana . Therefore the major reason
marijuana continues to remain illegal, is that special interest groups are
blocking legislation by extensive lobbying. Clearly it is seen that many
people support its use, at least for medical reasons.
It is obvious that the current policy for marijuana is not working very
efficiently. The government spends billions of dollars every year to stop its
use. This leads to the opening of a very extensive black market for
marijuana, because the drug is still in high demand. With the black market
comes all the crime and violent acts that create a new problem of
overcrowding prison populations. In effect, the government does not really
solve the marijuana problem; instead it just creates a new one in its place.
The present policy on marijuana is that it is classified as a Schedule I drug
in the Controlled Substances Act. This law established criteria for
determining which substances should be controlled, mechanisms for reducing
the availability of controlled drugs, and a structure of penalties for
illegal distribution and possession of controlled drugs. The criteria for
Schedule I substances are: The drug or other substance has a high potential
for abuse, is not currently accepted for use in medical treatment in the
United States, has not been proven safe for use under medical supervision.
Along with marijuana, hashish, and THC, drugs listed in Schedule 1 are
heroin, LSD, mescaline, peyote, and many other hallucinogens. This makes it
illegal for anyone to buy, sell, grow, or possess any amount of marijuana
anywhere in the United States. State laws vary in terms of penalties issued.
Under New York State Law, a first possession of up to twenty-five grams of
marijuana in private results